We do not discuss, Nell and I. In the early years of my imprisonment, I raged at her during her midwinter visits, but I soon learned that my prison only grew stronger with every fight: roots deepening when I screamed curses on her name, leaves withering when she laughed at my weakness. I stopped fighting the year I realized I could not discern bone from wood when I sliced myself open and peered inside.
In my pocket, my brother's letter seethed as if a hornet's nest was trapped in its folds. Was the captain another of Ostred's creatures, sent to find me? Or was the godsblood ink warning me—like it had with the messenger—about the captain's final reward if I came aboard his ship? I wasn't sure, but either way I didn't like it. There was only one thing I should do.